Strategic Planning: Why, Who, How and When

Seattle University is undertaking a strategic planning process.

This is important and timely work. Surveys of faculty and staff indicate a strong desire for clearer institutional identity and direction, and for transparency and clarity regarding the investment of limited resources, which our strategic plan will help accomplish. They also reflect interest in shared governance and an inclusive culture, which must be advanced through broad and deep engagement throughout the planning process. Finally, they show awareness of both the significant opportunities and the real challenges presented by our changing environment, and consequently the need to respond and adapt in ways that support our mission and Jesuit educational purposes. Our new provost wants to use strategic planning to help revitalize and set new directions for the academic enterprise. Discussions with other stakeholders, including students, including students, administration and the Board of Trustees confirm that these desires are shared throughout the organization.

This process is led by a steering committee developed through a process involving key stakeholders, including the president, the provost, Academic Assembly, the Steering Committee for the Staff Council, Student Government and the Board of Trustees. Committee membership and the process for selecting members can be found here.

This committee has been given the charge to develop a five-year strategic plan that advances the mission of the university and responds to the desires and interests outlined above. The committee is asked to undertake this work with a long-term perspective, a sense of university citizenship and a spirit of inquiry.

This work will be done with the intent of delivering to the Board of Trustees, in time for the May 2019 board retreat, a complete draft plan and with incorporating feedback from the board into a final committee draft to be completed and delivered to the President by the end of the academic year. Any remaining work – possibly developing implementation plans and completing the financial model – will be done over the summer so that the plan can be submitted to the board for final approval in September 2019.

The steering committee welcomes any questions or feedback and can be reached at

Below you will find an outline of the proposed responsibility and authority of stakeholder groups, including individual positions and governance bodies, within this planning process.

Qualities of the Process and Plan

Early discussions relating to the strategic plan reflected a strong interest in a way of proceeding that gives equal emphasis to the quality of the process (and its impact on culture and morale) and the quality of the resulting plan (and its impact on institutional priorities and directions). 

Through surveys of faculty and staff, the qualities listed below were identified and prioritized. The steering committee will seek to design and implement a process that exemplifies these.

Qualities of Process

  1. Engage the university community through broad and deep outreach.
  2. Exemplify and advance inclusive excellence.
  3. Exemplify and advance shared governance.
  4. Use research-based practices in planning and organizational decision making.
  5. Work in a spirit of continuous learning and improvement.
  6. Proceed in a manner informed by discernment and Ignatian pedagogy.

Qualities of Plan

  1. Fulfill our mission and Jesuit educational purposes.
  2. Offer a compelling vision for the university community.
  3. Be financially accountable and realistic.
  4. Make real changes that challenge the status quo.
  5. Include concrete and measurable goals.
  6. Provide a competitive strategy responsive to changes in the external environment.

Steering Committee

The work of the strategic planning process will be led by a steering committee. This committee will be co-chaired by one administrator (Bob Dullea) selected by the President and by one faculty member (Jen Marrone) selected by the President and Provost in consultation with the President of Academic Assembly.

Stakeholders and Roles

Preparation for strategic planning identified across stakeholder groups a desire that the planning process exemplify and advance shared governance. In order to do this, it is important that the planning work begin with a clear and shared understanding of how it will be governed: in particular how responsibility, authority and decision-making will be distributed across stakeholders. 

To this end, it is proposed that the role of stakeholders in this process align with the standards of the 1967 Shared Governance Statement of the American Association of University Professors and the 2017 Association of Governing Boards Statement on Shared Governance.  It is also proposed that this process more fully involve stakeholder groups not sufficiently addressed in these statements, including non-tenure-track faculty, staff and students.

The sections below outline the proposed responsibility and authority of stakeholder groups, including individual positions and governance bodies, within this planning process.